Joshua- I played it yesterday and know a bit about it, but just for our readers you want to fill us in?
Tony- Yeah, so we are taking a traditional JRPG and adding in an active element to the battle system. You can do special combos that will build up your special points (SP) that allow you to unleash devastating attacks on your enemies. So instead of just selecting your attack and it happens you must interact with it. Now you select an attack but you then must keep pressing different combos to continue the attack and in some cases, do more damage.
Joshua- Yes I thought that was cool and when you are casting a spell you must press a combo of buttons in time. Are you planning on making the combos unique every time?
Tony- We have thought about randomizing it but we should do more testing and see how our users react to it. Our motto for now is that if you can complete the combo faster you do more damage or heal depending upon the spell.
Joshua- Then it becomes a balance issue. You would have to give players more time to complete the combination and that might slow down the flow of battle.
Tony- Yeah there is only so much we want the players to have to do, so if they can at least memorize somethings it helps speed along the game and battle.
Joshua- Yeah I assume as you get further into the game you get bigger and badder spells that have new combos that players must learn. So, it won’t get stagnant. JRPG’s are known for their massive stories, so what is yours?
Tony- In our world there are stars that pass nearby called Gravastars. They can imbue people with certain abilities, those people become Specters. However, there is one guy that wants to take all the energy for himself and conquer the world. Our specters Baird, Alma, and friends go out and try to stop him from making the world a messy place.
Joshua- I think there was only one character model available in the demo, how many do you plan on releasing and is there any customization of the characters?
Tony- We are planning on releasing four characters to start: Baird, Pageant, Sylex, and Alma. They are all different types of characters with different abilities. Alma is paladin/boxer, she has metal gauntlets that knock down enemies and there will be differences in each one’s abilities. In the beginning, they will be very different but we worked the system to be like the sphere system from Final Fantasy X, so as you level up you can branch into other portions of the skill tree.
Joshua- That’s a great idea, it allows you to be more dynamic and adjust the characters to your play style.
Tony- As for customization for colors and stuff, we are talking about that right now and trying to figure out the best approach to it. We were thinking about using our line art system, that everyone seems to love, and our artist hates. <laughs> If people want it we will give it to them.
Joshua- Your studio is pretty small, so how many are working on Gravastar?
Tony- We are four developers: two programmers, an artist, and a sound designer. All of us are working part-time actually. We all try to dedicate about twenty hours a week to the project.
Joshua- Well that answered my next question <laughs>. So, is this the first game you guys have worked on or are you in the industry and are just striking out on your own?
Tony- Some of us do have experience in the field but most of us aren’t game developers by trade. So this is our first game together as a game studio. Things have been going well and it’s been smooth so far. The conventions have been great and we are working hard to put the game out.
Joshua- I like how you guys have set this up for the demo. I wasn’t sure how well it would do because JRPGs are, usually, this grand thing and you, typically, need a lot of time to cover anything in the game. You guys nailed the demo with ten minutes of good action and solid mechanics. What was the process of chopping that down? Was there a lot of trial and error?
Tony- Actually, it has been pretty consistent. Our initial focus was get the battle system out there, it is our hook and that is what people get drawn to first. Everything else will be a pretty standard JRPG; epic story, many colorful characters, and a leveling system. The battle system is really what is going to draw people to Gravastar. So, as a part of our demo we wanted to break it down into a nice ten to fifteen minute segment where people can try out what we are bringing to the table.
Joshua- I thought it was perfect and really well done. I liked the gameplay and I know that other people will for sure. It’s pretty loud and crowded in here so we couldn’t really film it, but is there anywhere that we can see a trailer or early gameplay?
Tony- We don’t have anything archived but we do have a twitch channel, you can find it under Studio Atma and you can follow us on twitter @StudioAtma
Joshua- Do you have a time frame for release and what systems are you planning on?
Tony- We are still in the early development phase so we are a few years out but we will be targeting PC and console releases. So we are trying to get on the Playstation and Xbox.